In response to the empirical and theoretical weaknesses of the older social stress or deprivation theories of social movements, a new general theory of social movements—resource mobilization theory—has become increasingly popular. One of the most basic points of disagreement between theorists accepting one or the other general perspective involves the extent to which the development and growth of a social movement can be attributed to the preconditions of social stress or some form of deprivation. This article begins by describing how the two perspectives are indirectly rooted in differeing paradigms of social organization, which leads to divergent assumptions about the nature of social conflict and social order. Next, theoretical and empirical problems contained in each perspective are shown to be partially related to these assumptions. Finally, a continuum describing “movements of crisis” and “movements of affluence” is constructed to suggest that the structural conditions inviting social movement activity are varied. When such variance is recognized, we find there is a place for both theories in the complex field of study, though deprivation theories especially face many continuing problems.


Social and Behavioral Sciences



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/ssci_fac/49